Insulated-Concrete-Form (ICF) homes and condominium buildings are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance. In this time of perpetual growth coupled with ever-changing consumer trends, there has never been a better time to rethink your go-to construction methods and find efficiencies every place you can.

ICF can be a smarter way to build, resulting in buildings with few air leaks and higher efficiency ratings. But even with ICF, rebar installation is complex and unwieldy, resulting in wasted time, higher costs and frustration among laborers, especially for cold-weather winter pours.

By incorporating Helix® Micro Rebar reinforcement into walls, your ICF buildings and large residential structures have all of the advantages of rebar installation, without many of the disadvantages.

Reimagining Rebar Reinforcement

So, what exactly is it? Well, it is not cheap fiber (which fails to add flexural strength), and it is not rebar (large pieces of metal that easily corrode and are costly to install). Helix® Micro Rebar reinforcement is a tiny one-inch (25-mm) twisted steel rod that’s mixed with concrete prior to being poured into its final destination. Thousands of these pieces together form a practically impenetrable bond with concrete that resists cracks before they even start.

The innovative product was brought to market after years of testing at the University of Michigan, where the science behind Helix® Micro Rebar reinforcement was confirmed. Today, Helix Steel manufactures in Grand Rapids, Michigan and distributes its product around the world, offering with it complimentary engineering to applications including a Ferris wheel in Seattle to warehouses in Texas to tunnels in Mexico.

ICF and residential builders are experiencing the benefits of Helix® Micro Rebar reinforcement firsthand, and are sharing their favorite highlights for others who are seeking to improve their construction processes, products and business.

Better Concrete Reinforcement with Less

When the construction industry is humming, it’s practically impossible to find good-quality laborers to install rebar. The difficulties in training, managing and ensuring high-production capabilities make rebar installation a prime candidate for automation. 

Helix® Micro Rebar reinforcement simplifies the installation process. First, the tiny steel pieces are poured from a cardboard box right into a concrete mixer, where it is mixed with cement and then transferred to a pump and flowed between the ICF panels – much less rebar is required. This reduces the site crew numbers and lessens safety concerns.

Saving Time in Concrete Reinforcement

Cutting out the laborious task of installing rebar, and simplifying the concrete pouring process, has the ability to transform a work schedule, since time is frequently lost to rebar inspections and congestions around horizontal rebar blocking the flow of concrete.

Helix® Micro Rebar reinforcement removes most rebar from the process, eases pumping and improves the concrete flow into the forms. Although no two structures are alike, every 10,000 sq. ft. of rebar replaced with Micro Rebar™ saves approximately one full day of construction, allowing ICF builders to move onto other jobs much faster. 

Incorporating Helix® Micro Rebar reinforcement into the ICF walls of the condos in the Vela Development at Grand Cayman resulted in a more resilient building that’s resistant to hurricane-force winds. The twisted reinforcement enabled a full replacement of rebar in the pilasters. What originally was estimated to take 10 weeks was reduced to two weeks due to the efficiency gained.

Improving Jobsite Safety Through Concrete Reinforcement Upgrades

Whether your crew is on the third floor of a hotel under construction, or twisting ties onto rebar in a home’s ICF wall, crew safety is paramount. Unfortunately, rebar use is not always completely safe to work with when you consider the number of additional crew members you need, the heavy steel, the back injuries and the equipment used to move the tons of reinforcement. 

Helix® Micro Rebarreinforcement is the safer alternative. It is poured directly in the concrete truck, and so does not require any physical contact with crew members; it requires less pouring time, which means less time open for accidents; there is no rebar improperly being stocked; and fewer concrete pumps, trip hazards, cranes and onside storage needed. Helix® Micro Rebarreinforcement also results in ICF having a simple “stack and pour” process with no waiting around for inspections or rebar installation.  

Essentially, Helix® Micro Rebarreinforcement makes ICF safer for everyone.

No One Said Engineering for Concrete Reinforcement Was Easy

The process of securing, hiring and working with engineers does not always go smoothly. Even if it is for a seemingly simple change to a building or reinforcement design. 

Helix Steel was founded by a professional engineer, who is now president of the business. Luke Pinkerton, also Chief Technology Officer, and his in-house team of engineers, offer complimentary engineering support either in-person or over the phone. This gives builders access to exact dosing, mixing, finishing and polishing instructions at no extra cost. In many cases, Helix Steel has the engineering tables approved in the ICC report. Helix Steel has full code approval to carry building loads under the ACI 318, IBC and IRC.

Building on ICF Builders’ Love for Energy Efficiency

Many builders say that their buildings are energy efficient, but only a few actually are. Helix® Micro Rebarreinforcement uses 50% recycled steel, which assists in LEED certification, and in helping to make buildings last longer. And how could we forget about the tons of steel diverted from rebar installation. The benefits of Helix® Micro Rebarreinforcement make our environment a better place in which to live, work and play.

ICF Benefits from Better Concrete Reinforcement

In an industry where there are few differentiation factors, Helix® Micro Rebarreinforcement has the competitive advantages that builders need. Safer jobsites, shorter timelines, an estimated 20–30% savings in reinforcement costs and proven success from failure, Helix Steel’s Micro Rebarmakes residential buildings ready for the demands of the future.

For more information on Helix® Micro Rebar reinforcement, a better way to build with concrete, contact Helix Steel today. 

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